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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Sandra J. Stewart, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Second Defendant Sentenced for Setting Fire to Coffee County Auto Sales Business

Montgomery, Alabama – Today, United States Attorney Sandra J. Stewart announced that a federal judge sentenced 33-year-old Dezarae Lashay Wiggins, a resident of Brundidge, Alabama, to 60 months in prison for arson. Federal prisoners are not eligible for parole.

According to her plea agreement and other court records, during the early morning hours of January 12, 2021, numerous area fire departments responded to a large fire at an auto sales business in Brundidge. Fire fighters eventually extinguished the fire, but only after the destruction of several buildings and significant damage to additional property, including vehicles, office equipment, and auto parts. Multiple agencies conducted an investigation and determined the cause of the fire to be arson. Surveillance video reviewed by investigators showed that Wiggins, along with former employee of the car lot, Charles Edward Jones, 48, from Clio, Alabama, started the fire.

Previously, Wiggins and Jones pleaded guilty to arson in federal court. On June 26, 2023, a judge sentenced Jones to 162 months in prison. Wiggins’ sentencing occurred on September 7, 2023. In the coming months, a federal judge will conduct a hearing to determine restitution for the victim of the fire.

“Acts of arson can jeopardize the lives of community members and first responders,” stated United States Attorney Stewart. “I am grateful for all of those who worked to extinguish the fire caused by the defendants, as well as the investigators that ensured the arsonists were brought to justice.”

“ATF’s Certified Fire Investigators conduct fire scene examinations rendering origin and cause determinations and provide technical analysis of fire scenes to local law enforcement partners and prosecutors," stated Special Agent in Charge Marcus Watson with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “ATF will continue to work with our local, state, and federal partners to hold individuals accountable who commit the violent crime of arson.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office, the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office, and the Pike County Sheriff’s Office investigated this case, with assistance from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Justin L. Jones is prosecuting the case.

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